on 2 July 2010
Once in a while there comes along a record that does justice to an artist's career and in "Dazzling Stranger", we have a compilation that does an excellent job in highlighting the work of Bert Jansch. These 2 discs cover his output from 1965 to 2000 and includes not only his solo work, but also his music with John Renbourn, The Pentangle and Lauren Auerbach/Richard Newman.
His solo writing has always been strong with such songs as, Needle of Death, It don't bother me, One to a hundred and Looking for love, but his arrangements of traditional songs such as, Blackwaterside (reportedly used by Jimmy Page for Black Mountain Side, on Zep 1), Rosemary Lane, Lady Fair and Three Dreamers are equally as skilful. I now own such albums as, It don't bother me, Rosemary Lane, Moonshine, A Rare Conundrum ( always been a personal favourite of mine) and Crimson Moon, since buying this compliation a few months ago. Although his instrumental playing has always been excellent, his voice(always an accquired taste) has suffered through the years from smoking and it has become less strong and more mellow in his later 1990's recordings.
There are 44 songs to choose from on these discs and they show that Bert's guitar playing stretched to folk rock, folk baroque and english folk music. The " Dazzling Stranger" also includes an excellent set of notes which not only trace Bert's recording career, but also give summary information on each of the albums from which the songs came from. All the notes were written by Colin Harper who is the author of the book, Dazzling Stranger, which covers Bert Jansch and his role in the English folk/blues revival. It's been a joy for me to write this review, having been a long time fan since the early 1970's, when I first heard Bert's playing on various Transatlantic samplers. I just hope my review can encourage you to listen and enjoy this extremely interesting and highly regarded performer too, even if you only ever buy this great collection.